When arranging my kids’ playdates, I never ask the question – “Do you have a gun in your house?”
But I’m beginning to think I should start asking that question. Though I imagine it to be an awkward conversation, it is without a doubt, an important one.
One reason I think I need to begin asking is because my 6-year old came home from school last week and announced that a friend in his class told him that his dad has a gun. In their house.
Wow, I thought. Here’s another parenthood challenge to deal with. Guns.
I have repeatedly expressed my feelings about guns to my two children. Personally, I think guns are dangerous. I think guns are unnecessary. Without going into a debate about guns and the 2nd Amendment, and how guns are used for hunting and safety and whatever else you choose… I still personally think that guns should be off-limits to most people.
I’ve made a point of not having toy guns in our house. Nerf guns, water pistols, BB guns… No gun-like toys. Nothing that “shoots”. Please don’t think I’m depriving my kids of any fun. They have plenty of toys, just nothing that will make them think that guns are cool. And definitely, no toys that glamorize shooting another person.
So when my son received a nerf-type shooting gun for Christmas this year (not from Santa!), I was very surprised that he immediately ran around the house shooting at everyone while yelling, “you’re DEAD”! “Put your hands in the air – BANG, you’re dead”. He didn’t shoot the target included with it, but instead, he was shooting people. In the head.
That’s when we had a sit-down conversation about what a real gun actually does. And what “dead” really means, and just how dangerous real guns can be.
And that is when my son told me about his classmate’s announcement.
Sidenote: This is a great time to add that I am a very non-judgemental person. If your family has different beliefs than mine… great. I don’t think any less of you. I respect everyone. But the safety of my children is non-negotiable. And do I want my kids exposed to a potentially deadly weapon that may look like a toy? That they may think is “cool”. My answer is a big NO.
My son’s announcement was honestly the first time I thought about the fact that my kids could potentially go to play at a friend’s house and have a horrible scenario occur. “Hey, let’s look at my dad’s gun… I know where he keeps it.” Or, “let’s play with my dad’s toy gun”. Because even scarier is that some guns are actually designed to look like toys. Unbelievable, I know. But true. Take a look here.
I am well aware of the fact that the combination of kids & guns has resulted in countless tragedies. So my recent realization that kids are intrigued with guns has made me realize that it may be necessary to ask potential playdate families – “Do you have a gun in your house?”, and “If you do, is it securely locked up?”
Awkward as that conversation may be, my children’s safety is the priority.